Now that the holidays are winding down and our regular workweek is revving back up again, the stakes for dinners at our house have risen even higher. Dinner is one thing we can reliably look forward to every day, so it ought to be delicious. But that’s not always easy. We’re talking about January after all, when we’re tired, busy and maybe struggling to keep our resolutions, culinary and otherwise.
Yet our re-entry into regular life can be magically smoothed by recipes like Hetty Lui McKinnon’s creamy one-pot mushroom and leek pasta. She ticks all the post-holiday boxes: easy, quick (30 minutes or less), meatless, one-pot and rich, with a bevy of caramelized, earthy flavors from a mix of golden sautéed leeks and mushrooms. The ricotta and chile flake topping add an effortless wow factor that eases us happily into the new year.
Also ticking those boxes is Yewande Komolafe’s roasted squash with turmeric-ginger chickpeas, a colorful, fragrant mix of custardy roasted squash and snappy marinated chickpeas that’s piled onto salad greens and speckled with pomegranate seeds. It’s delightful, pretty and not a lot of work. It may take a little longer to get it on the table (45 minutes), but that’s mostly hands-free, sheet-pan-in-the-oven time.
Vivid yellow turmeric — a glad sight on the grayest of days — also stars in Asha Gomez and Martha Hall Foose’s weeknight fancy chicken and rice, a recipe adapted by Sara Bonisteel. The fanciness becomes clear in the little touches that elevate the dish, like the ghee flavored with cardamom, star anise, and onions that make up the foundation, as well as the garnish of chopped, dried apricots and sliced almonds that add sweetness and texture.
This wouldn’t be a proper January newsletter without at least one cozy soup or stew. Lidey Heuck’s red curry lentils with sweet potatoes and spinach, inspired by Indian dal, is seasoned with fresh ginger, chile and red curry paste. I especially love the garnish of toasted coconut flakes at the end, which lend crunch to all the softness in the bowl.
For those looking for something meatier, how about a panful of porcupine meatballs? They’re not as dangerous as they sound. The name refers to the spiky grains of rice that poke through the surface; rice was often added during the Great Depression to stretch out meager amounts of available ground beef. Whatever your resolution this year, whether it’s spending less, eating less meat or cooking more delicious food, these saucy, hearty meatballs will fit the bill.
For those winter nights that are so hectic you need to make dinner in 20 minutes flat, Lidey’s sheet-pan salmon and broccoli with sesame and ginger is there for you in its fuss-free, pink and green perfection.
The holiday season isn’t entirely over for everyone — Epiphany is Jan. 6 — so I’ll leave you with a recipe for rosca de reyes. It’s a sweet, ring-shaped bread that’s traditionally savored by Mexicans and Mexican Americans on Three Kings Day, with hot chocolate or café de olla. Those beverages can be spiked or alcohol free, depending on whether your January is dry, or, like ours, slightly damp.
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That’s all for now, I’ll see you on Monday.